Sandbars are deposits of sand built up by currents offshore from a beach. The churning action caused by waves breaking on the beach excavates a trough in the sandy bottom and deposits sand into the beach and into a long built-up of sand stretching away from the shoreline.
With over 7,000 islands and strong wave action during the typhoon season, the Philippines has become a host to a multitude of sandbars. Particularly interesting are those composed of white sand and surrounded by crystalline waters. Here are some of them, namely those that we have visited:
Kalanggaman Island, Palompon, Leyte. One of most beautiful we’ve seen to date. Kalanggaman used to have two sandbars, one on either end but Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) practically wiped out one and built up the other; the existing sandbar is 365 meters long. Experts say the wiped-out sandbar (it’s actually still there but under water) will be built up in a few years.
Bonbon Beach and sandbar, Romblon Island, Romblon. This beach’s powdery white sand and remarkably crystal-clear waters make it a winner in our list. It’s very popular among the locals but only just becoming famous with visitors this past couple of years.
Sumilon Island’s sandbar, Oslob, Cebu. After whale shark-watching at Oslob, most visitors hop off to nearby Sumilon Island where this white sand beauty is located. It was high tide when we got there, with the sand almost completely submerged but it did not really detract from the beauty of the place.
Manjuyod Sandbar, Bais, Negros Oriental. Bais is known for dolphin-watching at Tañon Strait and also for this 2-kilometer long white sandbar. Pegged as the second-longest sandbar in the Philippines, Manjuyod is a usual stop after dolphin-watching. Again it was high tide when we got here but the crystal-clear waters were a sight to behold.
Manlawi Sandbar, Lahuy Island, Caramoan, Camarines Sur. One of our earliest encounters with white sandbars. Stretching for over half a kilometer long, this sandbar awed us when we visited it almost ten years ago. We even had lunch served in one of the small native huts in the middle of Manlawi with our ankles partly submerged as high tide slowly crept in.
Digyo Island’s sandbar, Inopacan, Leyte. The smallest of the Cuatro Islas group of islands, Digyo includes a sandbar pointing in the direction of Leyte island and province. According to locals the beach and sandbar here was even more beautiful before until huge quantities of white sand were excavated and sent to a nearby province to build a seaside resort.
Kawit Sandbar, Malalison Island, Culasi, Antique. Malalison is now popular for its rolling hills but the white Kawit Sandbar, shaped like a hook when viewed from the air, is just as interesting.
Bantigue Island, Carles, Iloilo. Part of the Isla Gigantes group of islands, Bantigue Island is home to a curving, cream-colored sandbar. This sandbar, not unlike a few others in the country changes shape and directions according to the wind and waves. An added attraction here is the ridiculously cheap scallops and wasay-wasay (a local oyster) that the island’s fisher folk catch and cook for visitors.
Tinalisayan Island, San Pascual, Burias, Masbate. It took quite a long journey to get here and to the other islands off San Pascual town, needing 7 vehicular transfers over 12 hours, but we considered it well worth the hassle.
Higatangan Island, Biliran. Extending 200 meters out into the sea like a giant snake, the white sandbar at Higatangan Island is said to shift directions every two months or so, bowing to the whims and waves of the open Visayan Sea.
Bulog Dos Island’s sandbar, Coron, Palawan. Located southwest of Coron Island, Bulog Dos has a long sandbar snaking towards the Malaroyroy Peninsula and the bigger land mass of Bulalacao Island. Beautiful, coral-rich waters of aquamarine, turquoise and deep blue blending together with white sand surrounds the sandbar. Snorkeling here is excellent.
Logbon Island’s sandbar, Romblon, Romblon. Logbon is a little-known island in Romblon but has a 2-kilometer long white sand beach and this beautiful white sandbar. Pieces of marble rock (Romblon is known for its marble) are strewn about the beach. During our visit we were treated to a community fishing activity where villagers hauled in a catch of anchovies.
Bacala Sandbar, Masinloc, Zambales. We had passed by a rest house in the middle of the sea on our way to the giant clam sanctuary and thought there was nothing really interesting about it. The Bacala Rest House, it turned out, was right in the middle of a sandbar. By the time we came back, low tide had begun to creep in revealing a pretty carpet of white sand, now easily visible under crystal-clear water that was ankle to knee-deep. The water was so shallow that we could lie on all fours and enjoy the waves gently massaging our bodies.
The sandbar at Kota Beach Resort, Bantayan Island, Cebu. Bantayan has one of the most picturesque beach scenes in the Visayas and the sandbar and lagoon at Kota Beach Resort is one of the reasons why.
Yang-In Sandbar, Cagbalete Island, Mauban, Quezon. Technically Yang-In is not a sandbar but simply a long extension of the western side of Cagbalete Island, similar to the extended beach on the eastern side. And just like its sister on the eastern side, the beach is characterized by sand ripples during low tide. It was given this name locally, so we felt compelled to include it here.
We can’t finish this blog without mentioning Panampangan Island’s sandbar in Tawi-Tawi. At more than 3 kilometers long, this is the country’s longest sandbar without a doubt. It also possesses some of the finest white sand and most beautiful turquoise waters anywhere. We were planning to visit it this year – Tawi-Tawi has been known to be peaceful compared to Jolo and Sulu further north – but friends with connections to the local police cautioned us about recent security issues in the area.